How Do You Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey?

not my mama’s turkey
not my mama’s turkey
Photo: iStock

It’s two days before Thanksgiving, and today my sister called to ask me if I know how to cook a turkey.


I don’t, and neither does she, but we are going to struggle through it together this week because by some dumb stroke of luck we have ended up with two of them.


I am going to call my mama, of course, because her turkey has never failed me in any of my years. Hers is always tender and juicy and worth eating the entire weekend after the holiday. It never lasts past Sunday.

When we were growing up, she always cooked it in the oven, and we would be playing around the house smelling that turkey all day. When it was time to cut it, the meat would be falling off the bone. It was seasoned just right and paired with all the custom side dishes—dressing, macaroni and cheese, greens, green beans, sweet potatoes, Grandma Judge’s fresh cranberry sauce, those old school brown and serve rolls and lots of desserts.

We’d eat until we were overcome by the ethnic fatigue, and then would nap, wake up and eat some more.

This is how Thanksgiving works.

So yes, at this big age, I am going to be cooking a turkey for the first time.

Wish me luck.

Oh, and if you are so inclined, leave your turkey roasting secrets and tips in the comment section.

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.


Genie Lauren

I’m a spatchcock evangelist. LOL

Get a pair of poultry shears (just a fancy word for scissors that you only use for birds), cut the spine of the turkey out, break the breast bone so it lays flat, and you have successfully spatchcocked a turkey. The point of doing this is so that the whole bird cooks evenly, even in the most finicky of ovens.

Don’t forget to brine it (I only do dry a brine, because wet brining will keep the skin from being crispy and golden), and then add your seasoning hours before putting it in the oven (tucking butter and garlic under the skin is great too).

You can get as creative as you want with the seasoning - I have a friend who makes jerk turkey. As long as you spatchcock, dry brine, and don’t overcook it (get a food thermometer, don’t go by that plastic thing that comes in the bird), you will have a really juicy turkey.